Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rabbi Isaama on Walking In Heschel and King’s Footsteps

Read the full Devar Torah Here


As we each wrestle with our own place in our country’s national discourse on race, and try to navigate our personal responsibility vis-a-vis racism, I still believe we have much to learn from Heschel. In 1963 at the National Conference on Religion and Race, the conference where Heschel and King first met, Heschel offered the following caution to American Jews:

There are several ways of dealing with our bad conscience. (1) we can extenuate our responsibility; (2) we can keep the Negro out of our sight; (3) we can alleviate our qualms by pointing to the progress made; (4) we can delegate the responsibility to the courts; (5) we can silence our conscience by cultivating indifference; (6) we can dedicate our minds to issues of a far more sublime nature.

58 years later, we can look to Heschel’s cautions, and identify the normative habits of mind that have become deeply ingrained in our culture. It is hard to hold the truth that we have all managed to find ways to comfort our consciences in the face of inequity. Yet, we do not help ourselves or the cause of justice if we allow ourselves to become numbed by the weight of our own guilt.


The Slifka Center for Jewish Life is an active, vibrant, and diverse Jewish community. Slifka plays a central role in bringing together all our community has to offer. Our staff and students run a multitude of programs and platforms for your growth and enjoyment. Click each Heading for more information!

You may contact our staff, our Hillel student Co-Presidents, Numi Katz ’22 ( and Avi Cooper ’22 (, or any of our Student Leaders for more information — they are always happy to help!

Student Groups Finding community within Social Justice, LGBTQ+, Music, Greek Life, and more!
Israel Israel programming at Yale ranges from the political to the social and cultural, with plenty of travel opportunities
Religious Life Slifka Center offers a variety of Spiritual and Religious communities and ways to engage and explore.
First Year Students Everyone starts somewhere! If you’re new to campus, start here!
Social Justice We offer fellowships and other ways to pursue social justice initiatives
Travel Trips to Israel and more!
Jewish Learning and Fellowships Engage in Jewish Tradition with other Yale students.
Arts Interested in music? Arts grants? Or want to check out our permanent collection? Start here!
Mental Health Resources Pastoral Support, Community Support, and School Resources are here
Slifka Think Tank Creating New Ideas at the Intersection of the Jewish and American Intellectual Traditions

Student Groups

Jewish & LGBTQ+

We are a student group that celebrates the cultures of both the Jewish and LGBTQ communities, and provide a comfortable space for students within these communities. Contact for more information

Team Teva 

We are a student group that focus of sustainability and environmentalism. Contact and

Jews of Color  

Do you identify as a Jewish POC?  Contact for more information.

Young Israel House at Yale

YIHY is the student organization responsible for Orthodox student life on campus. We provide support, programming, and learning opportunities to the observant community, as well as reaching out to the greater Jewish population at Yale. Contact or for more information.

Jewish Grad Student Network 

Jews in New Haven (JiNH) is a non-denominational and pluralistic social community of Jewish professionals and graduate students in their 20s and 30s in the New Haven area. We include students, partners, Yale staff and faculty, and others who want to get involved. Contact for more information.

Yale Hillel

Yale Hillel is a community that enthusiastically embraces the range of Jewish backgrounds and experiences on campus. Contact or for more information

Yale Friends of Israel (YFI)

Yale Friends of Israel is a student group for those who care about the State of Israel and wish to learn and discuss issues related to Israeli politics, diplomacy, and history, as well as celebrate Israeli art, music, theatre, literature, cuisine, and technology. A pro-Israel, non-partisan group, YFI does not endorse any particular political views.  Contact or for more information


Yale’s only Jewish fraternity. We are culturally Jewish, and try to incorporate those values into everything we do.

Yale Israel Journal

The YIJ explores the cultural, political and historical issues concerning Israel. Contact for more information.


Shibboleth is Yale University’s undergraduate journal dedicated to Jewish thought and ideas – religious, political, cultural, literary, and philosophical. Contact for more information.

Yale Klezmer Band

Yale Klezmer Band brings the joyous, rousing sounds of klezmer to the halls of Yale, to its Hillel as well as to anyone who likes energized dance music. Contact for more information.


Magevet is a Jewish, Hebrew, and Israeli a cappella group from Yale University. All of its members are undergrads devoted to spreading beautiful music of the Jewish tradition to the far corners of the globe. Contact for more information.

The Latest on Covid


Like every community and institution, the last month at Slifka Center has been a series of responses to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Coronavirus outbreak. Now that we have cleared those initial disoriented weeks, we are taking a moment to reflect and share how we are refocusing our work of building Jewish community and nurturing students.

Our most consistent and fundamental priority has been safety – for our students, our staff, and the broader community. We followed Yale’s aggressive lead in rapidly closing Slifka Center, and took early steps in the New Haven Jewish community to discourage the types of social gatherings that had been known to lead to spread in New York and Israel. No gathering, no matter how exciting or how long-planned, is worth the risk.

Built on this commitment to safety, we have supported our students and broader community in three primary ways: providing stability, meeting financial need, and addressing the spiritual moment.

Providing Stability: Students’ lives have been turned upside down by the virus in the present and future – and we have sought to provide a stable, reliable base of relationships and community to help them navigate this challenging terrain together. Here many of the core Hillel methodologies – maintaining constant one-on-one communication with every student, embracing the diversity of our community, and empowering student leaders to take on leadership – have proved more valuable than ever. We have essentially moved our normal programs, classes, and services on-line; we have been in one-on-one contact with well over 100 students to hear about their lives and let them know someone is thinking of them; and we have even held student-board elections. And we have found a variety of new ways of gathering, creating asynchronous conversations to replace those that would have happened over lunch. All of this has been particularly essential as the diversity of students has only come to the fore – while campus is a great equalizer, differences in home situations from access to the internet to having a room of one’s own are magnified now – so developing a diverse and tailored approach is all the more important.

Meeting Financial Need: The financial dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic have touched everyone – including the Yale community. Since Yale has recently diversified its student body, a number of students rely on it for their own material well being, and that of their families. In addition to distributing over $2,000 in direct grants to students in need, we have taken steps to ensure that workers impacted by the closure of the Slifka Center dining hall are made as whole as possible for their lost wages. Finally, we are planning carefully for the long-term financial health of Slifka Center as an institution in the event that the current economic downturn becomes a recession, or worse. This process will be painful, but is necessary.

Addressing the Spiritual Moment: Spiritual support and inspiration are needed now more than ever, and we have made addressing the challenges of a foreboding future, a rapidly shifting present, and the emotional difficulty of family members’ sicknesses a central part of what we have done. The heart of this work has been numerous pastoral conversations with students who have lost family members to COVID-19 or themselves been sick, who have been unable to attend funerals because of travel restrictions, and who are struggling with loneliness and depression due to social distancing. We have also produced materials – a series of weekly emails that have been read over 10,000 times, an online session for students and alumni planning Passover celebrations over Zoom. Most importantly, we have empowered students and community members to support one another – with students producing not one but two amazing Haggadah supplements, and members of the local New Haven Jewish community buying one another groceries and calling one another over the holiday.

Throughout all of this, we have been keenly aware that our students and our community have never needed us as much as they do now – and never been more grateful for the engagement and support of everyone who makes our work possible.

Please do not hesitate to reach out as you have questions or ideas, or ways that we can be of service.


Uri CohenExecutive Director

Rabbi Jason RubensteinHoward M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale

Mourning the Murder of George Floyd

June 2, 2020

Dear Slifka Community,

We are writing to give voice, on behalf of Yale’s Jewish community, to our heartbreak and outrage at the murder of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer. We stand in solidarity with Black Jews and the wider Black community and in particular with our close friends and colleagues at the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale and the Black Church at Yale. And we realize that at this moment we must recommit ourselves to meaningful anti-racism work. We are all implicated when an innocent man is killed by law enforcement officers on a city street, in broad daylight, in full view of other officers and the public.

On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, we remember the harugei malkhut – innocent Jews executed by governments that oppressed our people over millennia. Our tradition teaches that we cannot take stock of our moral condition without reciting the names of those killed by the very people charged with protecting them. And we know that the list of Americans killed by those sworn to protect them is centered on racial minorities – and continues to grow.

Every death is a tragedy. But a murder is something different, and one that is part of a larger system of violence and oppression doubly so: the killing of George Floyd was all of these at once. As were the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Sean Reed – and last year’s shooting of Stephanie Washington in New Haven. Yvonne Passmore, an African-American resident of Minneapolis, shared this powerful framing with a reporter: “This isn’t just about George Floyd. This is about years and years of being treated as less than people — and not just by police. It’s everything. We don’t get proper medical. We don’t get proper housing. There’s so much discrimination, and it’s not just the justice system. It’s a whole lot of things.” We are witnessing – and participating in – a moment of protest that is fueled by a profound and destabilizing reckoning, a coming to terms with a bankrupted moral account, an acknowledgment that a large stain of guilt haunts not only America past but present-day America as well – as it will the future, absent fundamental and far-reaching societal transformation.

And – while expressions of sympathy and solidarity are necessary, they are nowhere near sufficient. We remember moments of acute attention and outrage that have fizzled into apathy. For this statement to mean anything, it must lead to action and structural change beyond what any email could provide. We are making just this commitment, with full knowledge that we are in the early stages of knowing how to make good on it.

“To say, ‘things just happen this way’ is to indulge in cruelty. We must realize that what happens is the product of our actions.” These words of Maimonides confront us today. We must grapple with the uncomfortable truth that our Jewish community, our institution, and our values are in need of long term internal reflection and meaningful structural change.

For now, we are attaching a list of educational resources and organizations in need of support edited by Rabbi Isaama Goldstein-Stoll, Slifka Center’s Senior Jewish Educator, based on a document created by Marlee Goldshine, Slifka Center’s former Social Justice fellow. Hillel Student Board (HSB) will be introducing opportunities to work towards racial justice through interfaith events, Jewish learning, and support of local organizations. In this project, we are strongest as allies and community members when we listen to and follow the lead of Black community members. Among them, this Sunday at 9pm Rabbi Jason will lead an evening of study and conversation in memory of George Floyd entitled “Imagining America’s Repentance” (

Things do not just happen this way; they do not need to happen this way – racial injustice is neither inevitable nor invincible. If we are silent, or if we give up on the struggle for justice, we would become, God forbid, accomplices to cruelty. Let us commit to being the opposite – allies of redemption and of everyone courageously working towards it.

Yours in mourning and resolve,

Uri Cohen, Executive Director of Slifka Center
Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale

Numi Katz, Yale Hillel co-president
Avi Cooper, Yale Hillel co-president

Hillel Student Board
Isabel Kirsch, Social Justice Chair
Annie Giman, Jewish Culture Chair
Max Heimowitz, Communications Chair
Zevi Siegal, Social Chair
Maayan Schoen, Outreach Chair
Sam Pekats, Education Chair
Madison Hahamy, Community Building Chair
Ruth Davis, Shabbat Chair

Slifka Center Awarded The Campus Partnership Award

At Global Assembly in Atlanta, largest Jewish campus organization recognizes contributions of exemplary campus Hillels
Slifka Center Honored for Campus Partnership with Yale

“Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale serves as a model of how Hillels around the world succeed in engaging and educating students, no matter their size or location,” said Hillel International Interim President and CEO Adam Lehman. “We’re incredibly proud of our talented professionals for the work they do every day to inspire and support Jewish students and their entire campus communities.”

The award to Slifka Center, along with 15 other awards, which also recognize those who reflect Hillel’s culture of excellence, were presented at Hillel International’s annual Global Assembly in Atlanta, attended by more than 1,100 Hillel professionals from around the world as an opportunity for professional development, networking and continuing education.

The Campus Partnership Award recognizes Slifka Center’s multi-faceted partnerships with Yale centers and departments. These include active programmatic collaborations with the African-American House, La Casa – Yale’s Latino cultural center, Asian-American Cultural Center, Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale, Chaplain’s Office, and more. Activities include domestic and international travel (especially to Israel), research, career development, social justice, and community organizing opportunities.

The Award also highlights Slifka Center’s strategic partnership with the student-led Yale College Council. The result is a late dining program that ensures that all students – including athletes, STEM students who have late labs, and those who hold jobs while in school – have access to a healthy dinner at Slifka Center’s Lindenbaum Kosher Kitchen and Heyman Dining Commons. Together, the Yale College Council and Slifka Center filled a chronic need, and in doing so strengthened the entire Yale community. With this prestigious award, Hillel International has named Slifka Center’s partnership with Yale as a model for other Hillels around the world to follow.

Message from Uri Cohen, Slifka Center Executive Director

New Year, New Doors 

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is almost over – the year went by so fast! And, as they say, when one door closes, another one opens.

In review, in 2019 we…

  • We finished an academic year in which we interacted with 588 Jewish undergraduates at least once – that’s 78% of all Jewish Students at Yale!
  • We saw a 500% increase in the use of our dining hall thanks to our expanded dining hours and the publicity about the expansion that went to all of Yale College
  • We began offering free Shabbat and holiday meals to undergraduate and graduate students who are not on a meal plan as a way to make sure that no one is turned away because of an inability to pay (graciously funded by a new donor program)
  • We launched a new kitchen program under the auspices of Unidine – our new kitchen operator – and the Star-K – our new kosher supervision agency partner
  • We fixed the persistent leaks in the roof and masonry, and upgraded our security and emergency-preparedness infrastructure
  • We hired fabulous new staff members that have enhanced our programming, educational leadership, and administrative capacity
  • We completed the 24th year of Slifka Center, and the 78th year of Hillel’s service at Yale

In 2020 we will continue our work to serve more students, recruit the best and brightest Jewish students to choose Yale, and begin construction on our 25th anniversary renovation.

As I think about the last 16 months and all of the building, repairing, and innovating that we’ve been fortunate to do, I am so grateful to those alumni, parents, and friends who choose to invest in our future. As you know, Yale students go on to do the most amazing things, and I feel fortunate to be in partnership with you in making sure that students’ Jewish identities, values, and interests are vibrant, strong, and present now and into the future. This mission is vital – now more than ever.

Now is the time to make your tax deductible gift for year-end 2019. Thank you!


Uri Cohen

December Message from Executive Director, Uri Cohen

December 2018

Dear Friends,

As 2018 and the fall semester (my first!) comes to an end, it’s time to review some of what has transpired in the last few months. It’s because of this progress, as well as what we’re setting up for the future that we hope you’ll make a year-end gift to Slifka Center. We’re pleased to announce that all gifts received by the end of 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000 by an anonymous donor – so now’s the time! Click here to make your gift.

Here are some of the highlights of the last few months. We:

• Hired six new staff members, including 3 Rabbis (and me!). Learn more about our amazing staff team here.

• Welcomed first-year students to campus with welcome bags and first-year student programs.

• Hosted a complimentary First Year Welcome Shabbat Dinner for students and families and an informal event after dinner for parents to introduce them to this new phase of life, as well as to the new team at Slifka.

• Hosted many hundreds of students, Yale faculty and staff, and community members for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services and meals

• Celebrated in our Sukkah on the terrace outside, and danced with the Torah all over campus and in Harkness Tower on Simchat Torah

• Held our annual SlifkaFest on Old Campus to introduce students to Slifka, and to recruit for Birthright Israel

• Served over 1,400 Shabbat dinners

• Hosted our first graduate student initiative of the year – a Rabbi Richard Israel Shabbat Table, which is an exclusive dinner with our new Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain – Rabbi Jason Rubenstein

• Co-hosted a community vigil with over 400 attendees and other programs to support our community and fight anti-Semitism in the wake of the Pittsburgh tragedy

• Field trip to Philadelphia to meet Omri Casspi, an Israeli NBA player on the Memphis Grizzlies, and visits to the Museum of American Jewish History and Mikveh Israel Synagogue

• Held our annual Hamentaschen/Latke Debate featuring Professor Joe Fischel and Professor Igor De Souza. This is the ultimate showdown between the two most beloved, most sumptuous, and most Jewish food items of our generation: latkes and  hamentaschen.

• Sponsored Hanukkah candle lighting both in Slifka Center, as well as in a number of residential colleges


As we look forward to the end of the semester and 2019, we eagerly anticipate:

• Beginning new cohorts of the Jewish Learning Fellowship, a 10-week experiential, conversational seminar that invites fellows to deepen their understanding of Judaism on their own terms.

• Launching the Urim Fellowship – an entrepreneurial program where student leaders will help us map out the campus and design strategies to engage Jewish students who have not previously been involved with Jewish life on campus

• Publication of the newest edition of Shibboleth, a magazine of Jewish thought and a circle of Yale students devoted to the discussion, publication and general nurturing of ideas on Yale’s campus, especial when those ideas concern Judaism. (If you would like to receive a copy of the next issue, please contact us at

• Travelling with 34 students in Israel on Birthright.

• Studying with 10 students at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem as part of the iEngage Student Seminar

• Hosting the re-scheduled Friedlaender-Krohner lecture on January 28, 2019 at 7:00 pm, Sam and Charlie Go to War: Letters Home from Jewish Immigrant Soldiers, 1918-1919. Click here to see the flier. All are welcome.

• Moderating the Israel Education Fellowship which allows students to learn more about Israel aside from what you hear about in the news.

• Co-leading an Alternative Spring Break for Jewish and Latin-x students to Puerto Rico to participate in ongoing Hurricane relief efforts there and promoting cross-cultural exchange.

• Hosting Passover seders, both in Slifka and with our popular Seder To Go boxes where students create their own Jewish memories and host Seders in their residential college or off-campus apartment

• Preparing for a much-needed renovation of the Kosher Kitchen

We are proud, on the one hand, to be bringing Slifka back to some of what has made it so great, by increasing our integration with the University, offering superb intellectual and cultural Jewish programming, and repairing our building so that it can support our work. We are also excited to bring innovative programs, curricula, speakers, and long-term planning that will set Slifka up for success going forward.

Your gift before the end of 2018 will support these and other programs, and signal your commitment to a strong Slifka, and a strong Yale. You can click here to give online, send a check, or make a gift of stock or other assets. You can also name Slifka as a beneficiary in your estate plan by making your Jewish Legacy at Slifka. Want to learn more? Reach out to me at or Jennifer Rogin Wallis at! I’d love to meet you and hear your suggestions. There’s so much greatness ahead – thank you for being our partners in achieving it!



Uri Cohen Executive Director

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